The Ampera – General Motors’ Europe’s derivative of the Chevy Volt – will be made with right-hand drive from 2012, about a year after LHD European sales start.

That means we will see it here in the UK as a Vauxhall ; Europe (plus the odd RHD market like Ireland) will see Opel badges.

The wheels of the five-door, four-seat Ampera are turned electrically at all times and speeds. For journeys up to around 40 miles (60km), it runs on electricity stored in the 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery, and emits zero CO2. When the battery’s energy is depleted, electricity from the on-board engine-generator extends the range to over 300 miles (500km).

The Ampera can be plugged into any household 240V outlet for charging. GM Europe is analysing the requirements of a recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars with energy companies, including Iberdrola of Spain, parent company of UK supplier Scottish Power .

“Advanced lithium-ion battery technology is the key to getting the Ampera into the hands of consumers,” said Hans Demant, GME vice president of engineering.

“The engineers at our research and development centre in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, are testing the battery round the clock, 365 days a year, to ensure that it meets the needs and expectations of our customers.”

The Ampera’s battery pack will be manufactured by GM at the first lithium-ion production facility to be operated by a major automaker in the United States.

The nearly silent electric drive unit delivers 370Nm of instant torque, the equivalent of 15bhp, zero to 60mph (96km/h) acceleration in around nine seconds, and a top speed of 100mph (160km/h).

Research by GM in Europe showed that approximately 80% of drivers travel less than 30 miles (50km) daily. Based on current fuel prices, GME predicts that the Ampera will cost roughly one-fifth of the current cost per mile of an equivalent petrol engined car.